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Class homepage ETAP 623 Fall 2013 - Wilde

Inquiry-Based Learning

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Intent of Project

The purpose of this mini-course is to identify what inquiry-based learning is and inform educators of how to incorporate it into Science courses.

Topics that will be covered in this mini-course include:

  • Defining Inquiry-Based Learning
  • Why Use Inquiry-Based Learning?
  • How to Incorporate Inquiry-Based Learning in Your Classroom
  • Resources and References


Learning Outcomes include:

  • Learners will be able to identify and define the meaning of inquiry-based learning (Verbal Skill).
  • Learners will be able to compare and contrast student-centered instruction such as inquiry-based learning to traditional teacher-centered instruction (Intellectual Skill).
  • Learners will be able to create meaningful lessons through the use of interaction and tangible learning opportunities (Motor Skill).
  • Learners will be able to design engaging inquiry-based activities in the Science discipline (Cognitive Skill).
  • Learners will be able to apply their knowledge to advocate for the use of inquiry-based learning in a given classroom (Attitude Skill).

Defining Inquiry-Based Learning

According to Merriam-Webster, inquiry can simply be defined as "a request for information", "an official effort to collect and examine information", and "the act of asking questions in order to gather or collect information".

In essence, inquiry-based learning is an instructional approach which is centered around student involvement in the classroom. Though it is student centered, teachers usually provide small levels of guidance through questioning and monitoring. Through meaningful questioning and engagement, the student becomes responsible for their own learning. The learning activities focus on experimenting, exploring, and discovering to encourage rich, higher-level learning with opportunities for deeper understanding.

Why Use Inquiry-Based Learning in Science?

Inquiry-based learning is supported by expansive research. Inquiry-based learning, or often referred to as simply IBL, is recently becoming more popular (especially in science) because it focuses on student-led activities rather than the traditional teacher-centered approach. With students leading their learning through discovery, this also encourages students to be more reflective in their thoughts and processes. According to the Schreyer Institute, this then leads to better critical thinking skills.

Particularly in science courses, it is the perfect opportunity to incorporate inquiry-based learning into the classroom. Using tools such as models, laboratory equipment, and hands-on resources allow students to be interactive and engaged in their learning. Encouraging students to follow the scientific method (making observations, creating hypotheses, making predictions, and conducting experiments)in addition to thoughtful questioning and hands-on discovery creates meaningful and memorable learning experiences, which optimizes student success.

Needs Assessment

1. Instructional Problem

Occasionally, educators find that their method of instruction may not be working as they had planned. It is a difficult task to not only plan lengthy lesson plans, but also to figure out which instructional method would be best for each situation, student, and topic. Often times, educators resort to old ways of teaching, which may include direct instruction, drill and practice, and so on, simply because it is the easier way to go. However, while these methods may be effective in the appropriate setting, we must sometimes think outside the box to provide meaningful and memorable learning experiences for our students.

2. What is to be Learned

Educators will learn about what inquiry-based instruction is, the benefits of the instructional approach, and how to effectively use it in a classroom of any grade level. Educators will then be able to create appropriate engaging inquiry-based lessons to use in the real-world context.

3. The Learners

The learners will include pre-service and current educators of all content areas and age levels. Learners will have had first hand experience within classrooms previous to this mini-course.

4. Context for Instruction

Students of this mini-course will explore all aspects of inquiry-based instruction using a computer at any location. A stable and secure internet source must be avaliable for use.

5. Exploring the Instructional Problem and Solution

Throughout this mini-course, students will be able to explore the advantages and disadvantages to using different instructional approaches; in particular, inquiry-based instruction. They will discover how in comparison to direct instruction, the inquiry-based learning instructional approach can effect the student learning outcomes. Students will then be able to form their own idea of how to use inquiry in a given classroom, and design effective and meaningful hands-on, inquiry-based learning lessons and courses.

6. Goals of this Mini-Course

There are several goals for this mini-course. The first is to explore how instructional approaches affect success in learning outcomes. The second goal is to create a deep understanding of what inquiry-based instruction is and the benefits of using it in a classroom. The third and final goal of the course is to enable students to aquire the skill sets needed to create effective inquiry-based lessons for any content area or age level.

Learner Analysis

Students within this course will come from a varying range of age, degrees, and personal experiences. The mini-course will target learners in the field of education; either pre-service or current educators of any discipline and age level.

Task Analysis

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Curriculum Map

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Unit 1

Unit 1: Inquiry

Unit 2

Unit 2: Discovering

Unit 3

Unit 3: Implementing

Resources and References

Concordia University. (n.d.). Which is best: teacher-centered or student-centered education?. Retrieved from http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/which-is-best-teacher-centered-or-student-centered-education/


Darling-Hammond, L. (2008). Powerful learning . San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Gonzalez, J. (2013). My journey with inquiry-based learning. Journal of Excellence in College Teaching, 24(2), 33-50. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.libproxy.albany.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=11929778-8347-4a0a-b12e-d51e55d44aea@sessionmgr4004&vid=5&hid=102


Merriam-webster dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inquiry


Northeastern Illinois University. (n.d.). Inquiry based learning. Retrieved from http://www.neiu.edu/~middle/Modules/science mods/amazon components/AmazonComponents2.html


Pritchard, A. (2009). Ways of learning. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.


Schreyer Institute, , & Lane, J. L. (2007, July 15). Inquiry-based learning. Retrieved from http://www.schreyerinstitute.psu.edu/pdf/ibl.pdf


The Academy of Inquiry Based Learning , Transformative Experiences for Students (n.d.). What is ibl?. Retrieved from http://www.inquirybasedlearning.org/?page=What_is_IBL


Wikipedia. (n.d.). Inquiry-based learning. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquiry-based_learning